Ancient to Future

A Conversation with Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts and Simone Leigh

  • Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts (left); Simone Leigh (right)

History must restore what slavery took away.” - A. Schomburg, The Negro Digs Up His Past

Arts & Minds

High Stylin'

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  • Arts & Minds participant and caregiver enjoy a Samuel Fosso photograph.
    Photo: Sophia Bruneau

  • A participant shows off her finished artwork. Photo: Sophia Bruneau

  • Teaching artist, Sonya Jaye Bell, leads a hands-on activity.
    Photo: Sophia Bruneau

It’s Tuesday at The Studio Museum in Harlem. A bustling and vibrant group meets in the Atrium Café, the usual meeting place, filling the air and the moment with smiles. Familiar faces mingle, discuss, and observe before the start of yet another exciting Arts & Minds program. Twice a month, this diverse group of people come together to join in on a conversation—an experience—around a selected piece of artwork in the Museum.

I should also mention that this diverse group is composed of adults suffering with memory disorders and their caregivers—add in a couple of volunteers, staff and a teaching artist and you get Arts & Minds! Arts & Minds is an organization that brings adults with memory disorders and their caregivers together in new experiences of art. Through gallery discussions and hands-on art activities, Arts & Minds opens a window to creativity and well-being.

The Perfect Sweater!

Laduma Ngxokolo unites tradition and style

In the Studio with Jack Whitten

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  • Assistant Curator Naima J. Keith and Jack Whitten
    Photo: Geneva Dampare

  • Jack Whitten
    Photo: Geneva Dampare

  • Jack Whitten's Studio
    Photo: Geneva Dampare

  • Geneva Dampare and Jack Whitten
    Photo: Naima J. Keith

On a chilly winter afternoon, Assistant Curator, Naima J. Keith and I dropped in on world-renowned and revered abstract artist Jack Whitten. Intent on leaving the bustle and chaos behind in Manhattan, Jack converted an old firehouse on a quiet street in Woodside, Queens into his studio 9 years ago.

As we stepped into his spacious main room that has been arranged as part gallery/workspace on one side and living/domestic space on the other, our eyes were immediately drawn to a wall covered with photographs, posters, bones, and wood pieces. He began telling us about his love for deep sea fishing and Crete, which is where many of the skeletons arranged throughout the workspace came from. There was an image of Nkisi Power Figures from Kongo, which were the root of inspiration for all of the impeccable wooden sculptures that Whitten has been creating since the 1960s.

Robert Pruitt

in Conversation with Lauren Haynes

Enjoy a clip from last week's The Artist Voice: Robert Pruitt in Conversation with Lauren Haynes. Pruitt discusses Romare Bearden's impact and influence on his artwork and the impetus behind his drawing Conjuring Woman, 2011 featured in The Bearden Project (on view through March 11, 2012). 

Michaela Angela Davis and Melissa Harris-Perry

In Conversation at the Brooklyn Museum

  • Michaela Angela Davis (left); Melissa Harris-Perry (right)

On Thursday, February 16th, I attended an installment of the In Conversation Series hosted by MAD Free at the Brooklyn Museum. It featured an in-depth discussion and forum with Melissa Harris-Perry, professor and MSNBC commentator, and with writer and activist Michaela Angela Davis. The dialogue took cues from Harris-Perry’s new book Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America, which comments on the persistence of stereotypes and misrecognition that afflict black women. Furthermore, these images aid in creating very material consequences that affect black women’s political and social standing in America.

Yinka Shonibare’s Message in a Bottle

Hybrid Citizen-Ship

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  • Yinka Shobinare
    Nelson's Ship in a Bottle, 2010
    Courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London and James Cohan Gallery, New York. Photo: Stephen White 

  • Yinka Shobinare
    Nelson's Ship in a Bottle (detail), 2010.
    Photo: Katherine Finerty

  • National Maritime Museum Design Proposal
    Courtesy The National Maritime Museum
    © The Art Fund 2011

  • Ingar Dragset and Michael Elmgreen
    Powerless Structure, Fig 101, 2011
    Courtesy the artists and Fourth Plinth Commission.

Entering Trafalgar Square in London, it was nearly impossible to miss the curious installation of an impressive ship in a bottle. Placed atop the Fourth Plinth in front of the National Gallery from May 24th 2010 to last week, was the whimsically oversized model Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle (2010) by British Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare, MBE. Shonibare, celebrated for his potent, yet playful, post-colonial perspective and symbolic use of West African textiles, last exhibited at the Studio Museum in Harlem in a 2002 solo show. His recent site-specific sculpture across the pond was commissioned by the Mayor of London and Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group as part of a contemporary public art initiative.

Saluting Creative Voices

Thelma Golden on the AIDS Memorial Park

Thelma Golden from AIDS Memorial Park on Vimeo.

Ishmael Houston-Jones: PLATFORM 2012: Parallels

  • Ishmael Houston-Jones

The following is an excerpt from Ishmael Houston-Jones’s curatorial statement, which appears in the catalogue for PLATFORM 2012: Parallels. Join us on February 2 for our public program The Artist's Voice: Ishmael Houston-Jones in Conversation with Wangechi Mutu and Thomas J. Lax, where you can purchase a copy of the catalogue. More info about Parallels programming, here.


In the Studio with Jack Haynes

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  • Courtesy Jack Haynes

  • Courtesy Jack Haynes

  • Courtesy Jack Haynes

  • Courtesy Jack Haynes

  • Courtesy Jack Haynes

  • Courtesy Jack Haynes

  • Courtesy Jack Haynes

Jack Haynes draws pictures. After graduating from high school in 1999, he spent two years at Illinois State University studying illustration before moving to Chicago to pursue his passion, hoping that a career would soon follow. As a freelance designer, he has designed stationery, logos, invitations, books, and other printed matter for several companies. He loves comics and hopes to author and illustrate his own one day. On Friday afternoon, I had the opportunity to sit down with Jack Haynes, pick his brain and flip through his sketchbook. 

Your work spans a plethora of different media, what kind of artist would you classify yourself as?

It's difficult to truly feel like an artist of any medium at 30 with so much to still learn and do. I have put the most study into human figure illustration and painting.

How do you describe your style?